If you have ever lost a loved one, you know that grief is a difficult burden. And in many cases, moments of grief hit you when you least expect it. And that is ok. It is ok to grieve.
Yesterday morning, as my son and wife traveled to the local high school so that my son could go to class, they found this lesson the hard way. I got a call from my son at 8:00 AM to tell me that he could not go to school. He and his mother were sitting in the car in the high school parking lot sobbing.
In that one moment, they had seen, heard, or discussed something that brought back memories of my wife’s mother who passed away on August 29. And for the first time since her passing, my son had actually started grieving in a very public and visible way. We all knew he loved his grandmother, but he was trying so hard to be “strong”.
We all tend to do this during times of grief. We try so very hard to put on a brave face. It is our way of masking what we really feel so that we do not have to deal with it at that moment. However, that is not healthy. Grieving is a normal process of life and we have to let it happen. I am the worst when it comes to that, as I try so hard to be a rock for others.
Make no mistake, I am grieving the loss of my mother-in-law. She treated me more like a son than my own mother did. She accepted me when my own family turned their backs on me. She helped me find a place to live and had be over for dinners when no one, not even her own family, would accept me. And when she would have her episodes, she would trust me more than anyone else. I could get her to take her medication even when my wife could not.
As I sat by her bedside that last night in the MICU, I had a few minutes alone with her. I told her what I don’t think I had ever really said to her in the 20 years I had known her. I told her that I loved her and that I appreciated the fact that she accepted me when others did not. It was a moment of raw emotion. I also promised her I would stay by her side until she crossed over or got better. Within a few hours, she had passed.
My own grieving process is different. Everyone’s grieving process is to a degree. I grieve because my wife and son are grieving. My feelings of grief is for them. I do not grieve for my mother-in-law. For the first time in 20 years her mind and health are restored. She is at peace and surrounded by light and love that we can only imagine. No, I don’t grieve for her, but I do grieve.
And I will continue to grieve in the moments when I think, “I wonder what Linda would like for dinner” only to realize that she is gone. I will grieve in the moments when I see her urn in our home chapel. We will miss her, but we will see her again someday.
I guess what I am trying to say is that it is ok to grieve. We do not have to be “strong”. We are truly strong when we can allow ourselves to live through the human experience. It is that experience that makes us strong. Ignoring our grief only damages us, it does not make us strong.
So go ahead and grieve the loss: the loss of a friend, a job, a pet, a loved one, a friendship, whatever you might be grieving. Allow yourself to grieve and find healing in that release.
And then, let us walk hand-in-hand until we see our loved ones again.